Legislative Highlights: Alabama and Illinois

Over the last few weeks, the Parental Rights Foundation has been hard at work in a handful of states that are tackling parental rights bills in their legislatures. Two of those efforts I’d like to highlight this week are in Alabama and Illinois.

Alabama: On to the Constitution

In Alabama, state Representative Kenneth Paschal introduced HB 98, proposing a Parental Rights Amendment to the Alabama Constitution, on day one of their legislative session.

Rep. Paschal is a true champion of parental rights, and one I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with for more than a decade. Just last year, he championed the passage of Alabama’s Parents’ Bill of Rights.

That effort involved some language amendments necessary to pass the bill (without weakening it), a tightrope Paschal walked with great skill and care. This year, he showed the same kind of leadership as he worked with various coalitions to negotiate solid and effective language that can pass, giving Alabama a chance to become the first state in the nation to secure fundamental parental rights in their constitution.

We support HB 98 and encourage those of you who live in Alabama to ask your lawmakers in Montgomery to give it their support as well.

Illinois: Preserving Basic Rights

In Illinois, meanwhile, Senator Lightford introduced Senate Bill 3630, the Protecting Innocent Families Act. This bill addresses the state’s use of “Child Abuse Pediatricians” (CAPs) with three basic provisions:

  • CAPs must identify themselves to the families they are investigating;
  • The Department of Children and Families must notify parents that they have a right to a second medical opinion; and
  • The Family Court must consider that second opinion when considering the case presented by the CAP.

These are basic safeguards, including rights already enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Forensic investigators must identify themselves as such when they are interrogating or observing a suspect. Instead, CAPs routinely enter the room in a white coat, stethoscope around their neck, and identify themselves as part of the child’s medical treatment team.

Only, they’re not there to determine how to treat the child’s injury, but to gather evidence against the parent they suspect of abuse.

The bill’s common-sense safeguards are sought by parents, doctors, and child advocates on both sides of the aisle. But as more and more left-leaning organizations came out in support of the bill, Republican lawmakers began to get nervous.

That’s when we stepped in, not only supporting the bill, but contacting some of our conservative allies to do the same.

Today, when the list of SB 3630 supporters is provided to lawmakers, we are pleased to be joined on that list by many others, including the ACLU of Illinois and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

That’s the kind of bridge the Parental Rights Foundation is uniquely situated to build, and I am hopeful it will bear some terrific fruit as SB 3630 makes its way into Illinois law.

These are but two examples of how, with your partnership and support, the Parental Rights Foundation is working to improve conditions for innocent families around the country.

Thank you for standing with us in Alabama, Illinois, or the state where you live.